LJ: Betty Draper is dying. That's a spoiler. But it's really late in the week and if you haven't watched this week's episode of Mad Men yet then you're obviously not that committed of a Mad Men fan- I was going to say "Or else you are just a committed Mad Men fan having a busy week," but nope. I retract that thought. There is NO amount of busy that could keep me away from watching the PENULTIMATE episode of Mad Men! There are subway rides, there are breaks at work, there are bathrooms- so many opportunities to watch this episode and learn that Betty Draper is dying for yourself. It's not my responsibility to babysit all the half-baked Mad Men semi-fans out there; this Betty Draper spoiler is your karmic punishment for not loving Mad Men more. (By the way, who else is nostalgic for like ten years ago when nobody ever used the overly fussy word "penultimate" to describe the second-to-last episode of a freaking TV show. I really doubt we were all like, "Ah, tonight I'm staying in to watch the penultimate episode of Friends." Back in 2003, the only people who ever said penultimate were "pedants.")
Anyway, I think Betty Draper's dying is the most beautiful fucking thing. Like, obviously I'm really sad about it, and have basically never stopped quietly thinking about it underneath all the other thoughts I think for the past four days or whatever. But she's just been so impressively serene all season, so placid, like a river, and this episode she just floated- I don't mean that in a condescending way; of course Betty has her head screwed on maybe even too tight: she's very much Of This Earth. (Virgo with her moon in Pisces, would be my guess). But in her pretty pale chiffon nightgowns, she reminded me of the ghost of a bluebird or the flower called a bluebonnet or a jellyfish. Betty's never been on any huge spiritual quest, but by peacefully and maturely accepting her own death she has ended up self-actualising more completely than any other character the show's wrapped up for us so far. Who knew? I guess Betty Draper was the George Harrison of Mad Men all along.
I wish Henry Francis was a little less obsessed with the Rockefellers. Like, seriously, dude. You really have to stop incorporating the word "Rockefeller" into every conversation you and your wife have about her terminal cancer. It's not necessary, bro. (Henry Francis and I are bros, btw. Sorry! We just are.) Anyway, I just wanted to take this moment to shout out this mid-episode Betty and Henry argument, when Betty's like "Stop chasing your tail!" and Henry's like, "You're morose." What a classy fight! When my boyfriend and I fight we're just like, "Ugh ew leave me the fuck alone I had such a lame day at shitty work I'm fucking tired EW." A coupla boors, we are. But at least we never bring up the Rockefeller dynasty at inappropriate times. That's our saving grace.
"Oh good, it's Duck Phillips," said... NO ONE! No one said that, except maybe, like, a serial killer? Maybe a serial killer would be a Duck fan? If there are any serial killers out there who watch Mad Men. I feel like there aren't, though. Serial killers would probably all fall into the category of people who are like, "Mad Men's just too slow for me."
So yeah, I don't know, here's Duck Phillips. I feel like it was a really masochistic move, on Matt Weiner's part, to bring Duck Phillips back for one last disgusting hurrah. He was like "Yeah, Matt, do it. People are gonna hate this." And it's true, Matt! They did. Duck's storyline got off to a characteristically disgusting start with him saying "Fit as a fiddle" in a way that would have been "adorkable" if Pete Campbell had said it, but we can't all be Pete Campbell, can we? The part of the whole Duck-Pete-LearJet narrative that I hated either most or least, depending on how masochistic I'm feeling, was when he was begging Pete to go to the LearJet dinner and then said, "I just need to fill this one position, and I'll make it through the winter"- like, what the hell? Make it through the winter? How poor are you, dude? Are you a homeless person on the street? So dramatic!
Also: I feel like Duck and Lou Avery must know each other, and like each other. I'll bet Duck was a supporter of Scout's Honor from Day One.
Glad everything worked out for our boy Pete Campbell! I mean I am REALLY glad. But I don't have much clever shit to say about it, just wanted to state for the official Pete record that:
1. I thought it was really cool how he empowered his daughter by calling her Wonder Woman and not, like, Lambie-Pie or whatever
2. His globe bar is cool
3. When resident grosso Duck asks him, "Who's going to win the World Series this week?" he cutely replies "I don't know!" in an inflection reminiscent of how my thirteen-year-old self might have responded to my mother asking me a question about either a boy I had a crush on or my menstrual cycle.
4. At some point over the course of my day today I had the genius revelation that Wichita-Pete is going to become... wait for it... I'm so smart... *DJ airhorn sample*... THE WORLD'S HUGEST ELTON JOHN FAN.
(Picture him wailing along to "You can't plant me in your penthouse" when he thinks no one's watching <3)
I know I already said "our boy Pete Campbell" in this Mad Men recap, but that's not going to stop me from being like
IT'S YA BOY DON DRAPER
And then in the background Jay-Z calls out "Ya boy! Ya boy!"
That's how I feel about presenting Don Draper to you guys this week. This entry has a bit of a hip-hop feel to it, on my end. Do you think Kim & Kanye watch Mad Men? I don't. I feel like they fall into the "Mad Men's too slow for me" camp, just like serial killers. Kim and Kanye need ACTION.
Don Draper is Mad Man Of The Week this week. I like how he's just full-on going for it, in terms of his insanity. Did any of you watch the TV show Togetherness? It's fucking brilliant. There's this part in one episode where Mark Duplass' character is talking to his kooky spiritual guru about how when he was growing up his friends and family would always make fun of him for "weirding out," and then he goes on a cool psychedelic journey toward embracing his own weirdness. I think so much about how "weird"-ly applicable that is to Don's character arch- the whole idea of "feeling ashamed about weirding out until you have nothing left to do but weird out in a really extreme way." I'm so proud of Don for giving up on trying to be normal- such a fruitless pursuit!- and I love how he's totally open about the ins and outs of his weird new vagabond life with Sally. That seems healthy.
PS: I know the depth of this episode seems a little beyond such frivolities as Outfit Of The Week, but Sally's nightgown-and-tousled-hair look is taking home the Milk and Honey Route prize nevertheless.
PPS: What does "The Milk and Honey Route" mean? When you Google it, the only thing that comes up is this Mad Men episode, and I already know about this Mad Men episode.
LIZ: What a beautiful bushel of apples! I wish we could've seen Pete at the orchard, plucking those shiny red macintoshes from the trees in his turtleneck and blazer. And I'm curious as to whether Trudy asked him to pick up a jug of cider, or if he went and bought it on his own. Probably it's the latter. New-Lease-on-Life Pete Campbell's just a really thoughtful guy.
I also want to know if Pete ended up taking Tammy to Friendly's, and I want to know what he ordered when they got there. I feel like the old Pete Campbell would've ended up with some drab, dainty, Pete Campbell-y thing - like, one little measly scoop of butter pecan, and not even with chocolate sprinkles on top. But the new and improved Pete Campbell would totally just go for it and get himself a Jim Dandy, which is basically the ultimate "divorced dad taking his daughter to Friendly's" dessert option. A Jim Dandy, in case you don't know, is five scoops of ice cream, a banana, strawberry topping, marshmallow topping, chocolate topping, whipped cream, walnuts, sprinkles, and a cherry. It looks like this. Pete would eat that whole thing and then he'd eat the rest of Tammy's ice cream - which I just decided is a strawberry sundae, because he spoils her. His little Wonder Woman, "no worse for wear."
(Side note: I used to do some freelance work for a filmmaker who was a real loose-cannon type; every Thursday I'd go to her house in Hollywood and send emails for her while she stomped around and yelled a lot at no one in particular. One time she sent her boyfriend out to get her ice cream, and he came back with butter pecan, and she threw a huge temper tantrum, shouting, "HOW COULD YOU GET ME BUTTER PECAN? I HATE BUTTER PECAN!!! BUTTER PECAN IS FOR DEAD PEOPLE!!!!!" My point is that I thought that was a very original take on ice cream, and also on death.)
It's possible I just really need a vacation, but the idea of drinking whiskey and eating pretzels and watching TV in my underwear in a motel bed sounds like heaven to me right now. Other than that, Don's creepy motel adventure was not so heaven-like for me. My stomach hurt the whole time we were at the vets fundraiser: I kept waiting for those men to do terrible things to Don, and when Pam Beesly's ex-fiance showed up I got all extra freaked out, probably still traumatized from that time he tried to beat up Jim Halpert. So apart from the pretzels, the only motel-related things I enjoyed were:
-when Don boredly dove into the pool
-when Don made a big deal of hatefully staring at the Coke machine
-that new bit of info we learned about how Don went to night school. It's just very cute to think of Muppet Baby Don Draper in night school in New York City, learning how to type.
Oh hi, I'm Pete Campbell, the cutest person in the whole wide world, with my giant glass of milk and big hunk of pie that my adorable daughter made me. Look at me, look how I've arrived. I'm about to live my best life. I'm going to Wichita, far from this opera forevermore. I've also made the weird move of taking a job at an aircraft company, despite the fact that just years ago my father perished in a plane crash. I am truly extraordinary.
So yeah: Pete! My sweet darling Peter Dyckman Campbell. I woke up on Monday morning to a text from LJ, reading "Happy 4 Pete," which was a great start to the week. My best moment from the pie scene was when he said "Eat with me" to Trudy. It was one of my top five Pete Campbell lines of the night, along with:
-"I dare say, it got you excited trying to close over coffee"
-"I think it feels good and then it doesn't"
-"YOU STUPID WINO, YOU'RE GOING TO DESTROY EVERYTHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
-the part when he says "Good morning" to Trudy instead of "Goodnight," and his voice is the most perfect balance of creepy and sweetly tender. Pete is just the cutest little cheeseball-creep.
My only complaint about the pie scene is he forgot to take the pie home. I hope Trudy had the good sense to throw the pie out, or at least hide it, so that Tammy wouldn't think that Pete didn't want it. Apparently I'm very concerned about the Campbell family's dealings with the Lyman Orchard apples, and all related apple-produced goods.
The last thing I want to say about Pete is I love it when he talks all cosmic-like, going on about the supernatural origins of things. And that it's so classy how he didn't try to stay the night. I agree that his singing along to "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" on that weird stereo thing that Ken Cosgrove/Ben Hargrove wrote a short story about would be the most breathtaking thing in the world.
And here's Don, with his stupid Sears bag and his big dumb life, sitting on the bus bench all pleased as punch. It's cool how he inspired that Andy kid to get the hell out of dodge. And I loved how no-drama he was about delivering the bag of money to the awful Betty's-dad-lookalike motel owner. Don is so chill. I don't get people who say things like, "Don Draper's gross and sleazy and a drunk, I don't see the appeal." They're probably the same people who don't like Anthony Bourdain because "he's arrogant." Why would you ever want to turn on the TV and watch people who are nice and sober and humble and completely free of all vices? That sounds so depressing. It's so depressing to not love Mad Men.
Anyway - the one Don-related concern I want to voice here is: he's not going to abandon Sally, is he? He can't. He can't orphan his kids. Along with the ghost of Anna Draper, Sally is his soul.
In addition to not getting people who don't like Don Draper, I also don't get people who are like, "Matthew Weiner killed Betty on Mother's Day! Matthew Weiner hates women!" That seems pretty reductive to me. Let's all just allow for the possibility that the world is a little cooler than Matthew Weiner holing up in his office and studying calendars and triangle graphs and bending the plot of his entire series so that the revelation of Betty Francis's impending death will occur exactly on Mother's Day, 2015. Let's just live that way instead.
So, yeah, Betty. The thing I can't shake is that moment when we see her climbing the stairs at school, and she's having a hard time and obviously hurting - but then a boy says hi to her and her face lights up into the biggest, brightest, most beautiful smile. She's partly faking but she's also so excited to be at school, so proud of herself and so happy to be recognized. In general I think a lot about the idea of wanting to do something forever, and putting it off and putting it off, and finally getting the courage to give it a shot - and then having it all blown to hell by forces entirely beyond your control. That's what's happened with Betty, and the way she carries on so tranquilly, with such grace and actual joy: it's so heartbreaking and beautiful. Birdie is a hero now.